When we’re expecting a baby, starting or growing a family, we plan and prepare for the best things and happy times ahead. It’s so hard to listen to sad stories and cases where it goes wrong. Sadly more than 200 babies unexpectedly died of SIDS in the UK in 2019. SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is extremely rare, but absolutely devastating. The good news is that over the years we have seen huge progress in reducing death rates by doing small things.
It’s more common in the first six months of a child’s life (88% of cases) and usually occurs when the child is sleeping. However, thankfully the death rates are falling. Since the ‘back to sleep’ campaign was launched (rather than babies sleeping on their fronts) the death rate has fallen by 82%, but we still don’t know what really causes it. Some babies are at a higher risk, such as those with a low-birth weight or born prematurely. Research has shown there are ways to decrease the chances of SIDS and therefore safe sleep guidelines have been drawn up and recommended.
As a sleep specialist I am absolutely dedicated to following and promoting safe sleep guidelines and want to share advice with you here. The following advice is adapted from NHS.UK.
- always place your baby on their back to sleep
- place your baby in the “feet to foot” position – with their feet touching the end of the cot, moses basket, or pram
- keep their head uncovered, blankets should be tucked in no higher than shoulder level
- let your baby sleep in a cot or Moses basket in the same room as you for the first 6 months
- use a mattress that’s firm, flat, waterproof and in good condition
- breastfeed your baby if you can
- do not smoke during pregnancy or let anyone smoke in the same room as your baby – both before and after birth
- do not sleep on a bed, sofa or armchair with your baby
- do not share a bed with your baby if you or your partner smoke or take drugs, or if you’ve been drinking alcohol
- do not let your baby get too hot or too cold – a room temperature of 16C to 20C is ideal with light bedding or a lightweight baby sleeping bag
Also recommend you take a look at more excellent advice and guidance hosted on the Lullaby Trust website.